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Barbara Zangerl and Jacopo Larcher free climbed “The Nose”


Last November La Sportiva ambassadors Barbara Zangerl and Jacopo Larcher free climbed The Nose on El Capitan. After El Niño in 2015, Zodiac in 2016, Magic Mushroom in 2018, the pair achieved another great success on the world's most famous big wall, and tells us more about the shoes used on the wall.

Climbing the route in their usual style, both taking the sharp end on all the harder pitches, Jacopo Larcher e Barbara Zangerl free climbed “The Nose”. ". In six days the two alpinists retraced the same movements as Lynn Hill did in 1993, when she first freed what is probably the most famous climbing route ever.

Following a first attempt in autumn 2018, failed because at the time the crux pitches were wet, the pair came back to Yosemite this year and after a brief period rappelling from the top to check out the crux pitches, everything went smoothly.

I'd always dreamt of trying it ground-up in a single push, but as soon as we got started we realised it would be too audacious” said Jacopo in an interview with  Planet Mountain  “The weather window was too short, just four days, and the route simply too hard for us. So we decided to climb the route in 3 days, take a look at the harder pitches and get a feel for the more difficult sections”

The start went well and despite being slowed down slightly by other parties and due to the heavy haul bags, but on their third day they both managed to free the first the first crux, The Great Roof. After reaching Camp 6, they had to take a rest day before tackling the hardest pitch of all, the complicated and beautiful Changing Corners

A really long pitch, where the biggest challenge was tiring to keep the body tension throughout, that in the end lead them o the top of El Cap just in time to enjoy the beauty of the sunset over the valley. 

Many people took this realization almost "for granted" considering that on the wall were two of the most expert big wallers, a couple who in just four years managed to repeat routes as Magic Mushroom, El Niño, Zodiac and Pre-Muir (freed only from Babsi).  But there's nothing obvious about being successful on The Nose. 

Although The Nose is the most popular route in El Capitan, paradoxically, free ascents are extremely rare. “Freeing The Nose was always a big dream to me since when I firstly started climbing. It is such a historical route!” Admitted Babsi on her Instagram channel. When Jacopo added:

" It’s such a good feeling when dreams come true ... and together is even better!"

Focus on: SHOES

By Jacopo Larcher

If on one side we were trying to save as much weight as possible on the water and the gear, on the other side we definitely didn’t worry too much about bringing many different pairs of climbing shoes on the wall with us. The climbing on the crux pitches was simply too insecure and technical for risking not to have the right “weapon”. It may sound crazy, but each of us packed 5 pairs of shoes… we basically had one bag just for them!

As most of the pitches of the Nose aren’t very hard, and they are mostly cracks, we both opted for climbing 90% of the route with a comfy shoe. Instead of the "classic” crack climbing shoe, the TC pro, we both used slightly bigger (compared to our normal size) Kataki’s; we preferred to climb with a softer shoe in order to have more sensibility on the technical slabs in the first part. Babsi even came up with the idea of modifying her Kataki, adding a layer of soft rubber on the front, so that her feet would hurt less while jamming them in the cracks!

One of the hardest parts of the crux pitches was to stand on some very bad smears, so we both opted again for a soft shoe: the Skwama. In the last 3 years, this model has become our weapon for most of the hard pitches on El Cap (and not only!). We had several pairs with us, some older and more used (softer), some newer and a little bit stiffer. I also had a pair of Futura for the upper crux pitches, for which I needed a slightly stiffer shoe; our beta involved a lot of knee-bars and I needed to make more pressure with my right foot. I ended up climbing that pitch with two different models of shoes: left an old Skwama, right a Futura.

 

In general we brought so many shoes on the wall, just because we were worry to wear them out too fast smearing all the time on very bad footholds. 

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